Friday, 28 March 2014

Measuring QA Key Skills and Competencies

I have been thinking about how I can help encourage self improvement within my team, as I understand it, everyone wants to improve, it's just that often there are a number of things that hold people back.

I believe one of these things that hold people back are around identifying skills that they are perhaps weak in or that they could/should improve on. So I thought about how I can help tackle that problem.

One solution that I want to try with people is to identify the key skills for a QA, what key skills should every QA have, or at least what key skills make up a good QA? If I can identify these then I can start helping people identify if they are lacking in an area. Sure there is a competency matrix that we have, but it has things like "An excellent understanding of XXX", it's often very difficult to quantify what an excellent understanding actually is.

So I sat down and came up with the following key skills:
  • OOP
  • Test Documentation
  • Manual Testing
  • Automated Testing
  • Performance Testing
  • Security Testing
  • Operational Testing
  • Tool Usage
  • Cross Browser Testing
  • Automation Pyramid
  • SQL
  • Test Data
  • Communication Skills
  • Mobile
I'm sure there may be more, so please feel free to comment and suggest some to me. However, these will definitely do as a starting point and for the purpose of this exercise.

Secondly, I thought it's easy to go through and say I know a bit about SQL, I know a bit about Services/API Testing so I don't really need to learn them. So I thought about the following, sitting down with each QA member and discussing with them how strong they are, and trying to come up with a score out of 10 on how they would rate their knowledge, I would then put this into a radar graph to achieve an overall view of their skills as a QA.

As you can see I have tried to do it for myself, it's difficult coming up with scores, so it's by no means final as ideally I would discuss these with my manager and come to an agreement, but I think it is easy to see the areas that I need to improve on. I have also aligned these to the core competencies matrix that we have adopted, so it ties into helping people develop themselves with an eye for a promotion etc.

The next step is coming up with actions on how we can improve the above, but I will save that for a separate post!


  1. This is a great list! What about adding testing to meet accessibility standards? Our team here at Pixo ( strives to meet accessibility standards (especially for our higher ed clients) so we do in-depth testing for that as well. It's a bit of an undertaking but well worth the effort for those with disabilities to be able to use our websites.

    1. That's a good idea! Like I said this isn't a definitive list, so any suggestions are welcome. Where I work currently there is a drive to start performing accessibility testing, and in fact I got the team to do presentations on areas of testing and accessibility testing was one of them! Thanks!